Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever recorded, struck the Philippines in November 2013 with winds of up to 190 mph (305 kph). At least 10,000 people died in one Philippine province alone.
USS George Washington leads US fleet out of Hong Kong for Philippines
The fleet cuts short its Hong Kong stay as the UN seeks US$301m to aid Philippine recovery
The United Nations yesterday launched an appeal for US$301 million for typhoon-ravaged Philippines, and US warships left Hong Kong on a mercy mission to deliver aid.
"We are certainly expecting the worst. As we get more and more access we find the tragedy of more and more people killed in this typhoon," UN humanitarian operations director John Ging said, after Philippine President Benigno Aquino declared a "state of national calamity".
Nearly 10 million people, or 10 per cent of the Philippines' population, have been affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan, while 660,000 have lost their homes. The Philippine government said more than two million need food.
Many countries have pledged aid, including a modest amount from China, which has been embroiled in a bitter territorial dispute with the Philippines.
The nuclear-powered USS George Washington, carrying about 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft, was joined by four other US Navy ships that cut short their stay in Hong Kong.
They should arrive in two to three days, the Pentagon said. A British warship, currently in Singapore, is also being deployed.
"There will be food, water and medical supplies that meet us in the area, and then we'll provide the logistics lift required in order to get those supplies from the logistic ships into the beach," said Captain Thomas Disy of cruiser USS Antietam.
The United Nations said 10,000 people were feared dead in Tacloban, the provincial capital of Leyte where five-metre waves whipped up by 315km/h winds flattened nearly everything in their path on Friday.
UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos praised the international community's reaction since Haiyan hit but said much more needed to be done.
China, where the typhoon killed several people, has promised US$100,000 in aid to Manila, along with another US$100,000 through the Chinese Red Cross - far less than pledged by other economic heavyweights. The state-run Global Times said China should show generosity, despite tensions with Manila.
Japan has offered US$10 million and Australia US$9.6 million.
Jennifer Ngo, Agence France-Presse, Reuters
Video: Grim search for bodies goes on in Philippines